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Next Step Academy | Job Skills

The Top Three Future Jobs in High Demand

March 2nd, 2017 by

Deciding what you want to major in can be tough. The job market is constantly changing and you want to know the career you decide to pursue will be in high demand when it’s time for you to enter the field. Next Step Academy is here to help with the three jobs that will be in high demand over the next five years.

imagesJava Developers. The internet continues to grow and dominates both our personal and professional lives, with no signs of slowing down. This means web designers and java developers are going to remain in high demand and that demand is only going to get higher. Web developers are responsible for developing programs for mobile devices and creating mainframes and websites.

Information Security Analyst. The increased reliance on technology and the internet also means security is going to be the defining characteristic of the decades to come. Information security analysts are going to play a crucial role in keep data safe from private hackers, competing companies and even other governments.

Financial Services. Perhaps the most surprising job on this list is financial services. As many companies begin to nix pension plans and social security is no longer a guarantee, people are choosing to manage their own finances. This means the demand for Certified Public Accountants (CPA) is on the rise. This field is expected to grow over 41 percent over the next decade.

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Updating Your Personal Brand

February 23rd, 2017 by

In the business world, social media is how you find new people for your network and how new people find you. Having a social media presence is almost a requirement for all professionals to stay up to date and connected. Establishing a personal brand is important. Making sure it stays updated and fresh is even more important.

Undev_BrandingReview your progress. During the initial creation of your personal brand, you probably had a particular goal in mind. Maybe you wanted to reach out to clients, look favorable to recruiters or you just wanted to keep your followers informed on what you’re doing. Take a moment to check in and make sure the goals you first set are still your goals today. Also, evaluate how close you are to achieving those objectives.

Set new goals. As you’ve developed professionally, you may want to set new goals for yourself and make a new plan for your personal branding. For example, maybe you’ve gotten more involved in the tech industry and want to me more inviting to that community. You may need to change up your profile pictures, banners, usernames, etc.

Clean it up. Remember, consistency is key. Make sure the name, images, writing style and tone you use are the same across all of your social media platforms. Remove posts and other content that are no longer relevant or potentially inappropriate. Also, make sure you check your bios for any errors.

Get feedback. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. Have someone who knows you well review your personal brand and offer suggestions. They’ll be able to tell you if they think your brand doesn’t present you in the best way possible. They’ll also catch errors you may have missed.

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Balancing Work and School Like a Pro

February 16th, 2017 by

Whether you’re living on campus, at home or have a place of your own, you probably are working at least part-time to make ends meet. Juggling the responsibilities of a job while in school can take its toll. Here are three ways to lessen the stress and keep your life balanced.

pexels-photo-170750Schedule wisely. The biggest challenge while working and going to school is making sure you have enough time to do it. Get a planner so you can accurately plan your time. Schedule classes around your work schedule and make sure you don’t overload your day. A planner can also help you make sure you have spaces in your schedule to relax. School and work are important, but so is rest and socializing with friends. Remember, it’s about balance.

Learn to say no. We tend to feel guilty when we turn down extra projects or decline to help someone with an assignment. But taking on too much extra will leave you with no time for yourself. The most important thing you can learn is it’s okay, even healthy, to say “no.” No one will hold it against you.

Consider online classes. Depending on your situation, you may work more than part-time and cut down the number of classes you’re taking. If this sounds like you, consider taking online classes instead. Online classes are more flexible and allow you to learn on your time, at your own pace.

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Avoiding Bad Career Advice

February 9th, 2017 by

There is a lot of advice out there for recent college grads and career veterans, from the Internet, mentors, professors, friends and family members. With so much career advice floating around out there, how can you tell which advice you can trust and which you should avoid? Here are three tips to avoid the bad advice and only take in what can help you become successful.

Group of business colleagues discussing at desk in office

Be skeptical. If you’ve taken Next Step Academy’s “Introduction to Critical Thinking” course, then you know you should always question what you’re being told and check your sources. Whether you’re reading a book or a blog, take a look at the author and their credentials. What experience do they have? What makes them qualified to give career advice? Forbes, a reputable business news source, likely has better advice and credentials than someone’s personal blog.

Use multiple sources. You shouldn’t get all of your advice from a single source. A mentor may have a different perspective than a family member who has known you longer or an author who has more knowledge about your field of interest. Seek out a variety of trusted sources so you aren’t just blindly following in the footsteps of a single person.

Avoid the Yes-Man. We all want to surround ourselves with people that will support us throughout our careers, but this may not always be the best for your future. Having people in your life that approve of all of your ideas, even when they aren’t great ideas, can actually hinder your professional development. You need people in your life who can objectively tell you when something is a bad idea to help you learn and grow. Sometimes tough love can lead to the best advice.

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Add Personality to Your Office Space…Without Overdoing It

February 2nd, 2017 by

There’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained in your office or work space between personality and functionality. On one hand, your workspace should be comfortable and inspiring, however it shouldn’t distract you from your work. Here are four ways you can brighten up your cubicle to boost your mood and productivity.12

Color. There’s a lot of psychological research about the effect color has on our mood. Grey, blank walls can be uninspiring and even reduce motivation to get your work done. For cubicles, add splashes of color with swatches of wallpaper. For a home office, you have more freedom to paint and accessorize. Choose your colors with care. Blues and greens are calming, while yellows and oranges are energetic and promote activity. Dark colors make spaces feel smaller while lighter shades help open up a space.

Comfort. Personality in the workplace isn’t just aesthetic, but comfort as well. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t be productive. Change out your work chair and, if appropriate, add a small pillow or lap blanket. Maybe add a comfortable reading chair or sofa for breaks and casual meetings.

Nature. Can’t get out in nature on your lunch? Bring nature to your office. Spider plants and aloe are hard to kill and do well even with little available sunlight. Plants not only make your office space feel more lively, but they also help circulate air and can improve your mood throughout the day.

Layout. Cubicles are hard to change around, but if your office has an open floor plan or if you have your own space, change up your layout to focus on organization and preference. Place what’s most important to you near the entrance of your space. Need a caffeine jolt first thing? Keep the coffee maker up front. Like to set your things down and take a moment to relax? Move your chair near the door. Also take into account which way you face in an office. Don’t like people sneaking up on you? Turn your desk so you’re facing the entrance instead of away from it.

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How Multitasking is Actually Destroying Your Productivity

January 26th, 2017 by

You probably think you’re a multitasking master; we all do to some extent. Right now, you’re probably reading this post, finishing up a text to your roommate and jamming to some tunes, all while contemplating what you’re making for dinner tonight. The truth is, multitasking actually makes you less productive… significantly less productive.

4453018910_613ea8d637_zThe term multitasking first appeared in the 1960’s as a term to describe computer functions, not people. The word was created to describe a computer’s ability to quickly perform many tasks at once. Multiple tasks sharing one resource — the CPU. However, the term has since been taken on to mean multiple tasks being completed at the same time by one resource — a person.

Unlike a computer, the human brain cannot process multiple tasks quickly. Every time you switch between tasks or thoughts, it takes your brain seconds to minutes to refocus and actually complete the task. Some research suggests that avid multitaskers actually lose up to 40 percent of their productivity each day attempting to multitask.

Multitasking during meetings or conversations is especially unproductive, even rude. If you’re checking your email or social media accounts during a call or meeting, then you aren’t giving the person speaking your full attention. You’ll likely miss important facts and find yourself lost.

Having trouble breaking your multitasking habit? It may not be entirely your fault. When we multitask, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, which overstimulate the brain and cause fuzzy thinking. This overstimulation occurs every time you finish reading a post, sending a text, etc. Your brain then rewards this overstimulation by releasing endorphins. This creates a feedback loop where you become unfocused and then rewarded. Essentially, your brain becomes addicted to multitasking.

Want to kick the habit? Try using a productivity technique that forces you focus on one task at a time. Maybe try the Pomodoro Technique (featured here) or maybe a simple to-do list to keep you on track. Better yet, take the Next Step Academy course on time management to remind you that you can do it all — just not all at once.

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Summer 2017 Internships: Start Looking Now!

January 17th, 2017 by

The spring semester has just begun and summer break seems years away. However, in reality, there’s just short of 15 weeks until finals are finished and summer begins. If you’re hoping for an internship this summer, it’s time to start preparing now. Here are three questions you should be asking yourself to get the internship search started.

Do I even need an internship? Many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields require entry level applicants to have prior experience in the form of internships. These include careers in architecture and the medical field, as well as all forms of engineering or research. Careers in the business, law, art and communication fields don’t necessarily require internships, however, internships are a great way to learn about your field and gain experience before entering the workforce.

Intern-1What do I want out of an internship? First, you may want an internship to help you decide what you want to do after you graduate. Over the course of your undergrad, you could potentially have two to four internships, each in a slightly different field so you can learn firsthand what your preferences are. For example, a communications student may want to get an internship at a newspaper, a radio station and at a public relations firm before deciding which career path they want to follow.

Second, you may want to use an internship to help guarantee yourself a job after graduation. If you’re already certain what field you want to work in, a summer internship can be used to build a relationship with a company. (Hint: Read Next Step Academy’s blog “How to Turn an Internship into a Career”)

How do I find an internship that fits my needs? Your first step should be speaking with an academic advisor in your department. Department advisors often have lists of open or upcoming internships. It’s also likely that your academic department already has a relationship with companies in your community that are always open to taking interns from your school. An academic advisor will be able to help you choose an internship that fits your current needs and career goals.

You can also use websites such as InternMatch.com or general job search sites such as Indeed.com which have filter options specifically for internships. These sites are great if you want to look for internships outside of your local area. Also, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up to date. LinkedIn will send you job and internship suggestions and some companies recruit interns based on the information you put on your profile.

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4 Steps For Getting Out Of a Career Slump

January 10th, 2017 by

Part of being happy is having a career that satisfies you. However, the goals and passions you had when you were first starting out may be completely different from the ones you have today. If you’re beginning to feel stuck or lost, then it may be time to make some changes. Here are four steps to help you get out of your career slump and have a clear idea of where to go next.

career_slumpReflect. This encompasses several steps. First, look back at your career and establish what you’ve been satisfied and dissatisfied with over the years. Then consider your passions and ethics and see how far or close you’ve come to a career that aligns with those passions and ethics. Lastly, consider the skills you have gained and how those apply to your career.

Craft a plan. Once you’ve completed some self-reflection, make a plan for the future. Reestablish your career goals and decide how you are going to achieve them. This could mean changing companies or positions, it could also mean changing fields. Maybe you’ll need to develop a new skill or even go back to school. Write down those goals and create a timetable to complete them.

Reach out to mentors. Any change to your career, minor or major, can take some planning and motivation. During this period of change, it may be useful to reach out to your mentors. A mentor can help you make decisions by offering you firsthand experience. They may also have connections that can help you turn your new career plan into a reality. Don’t have a mentor? Consider talking to a family friend or trusted colleague to help you through this.

Take risks. While there are many cases where small changes can help you when you’ve reached a career plateau, many times it’s the bigger and sometimes scary changes that can really propel you forward. Don’t be afraid to take your career in a completely different direction. This also means you shouldn’t let the fear of starting over keep you from making a change that will be personally fulfilling.

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Sparkle in the New Year with these 3 Career Goals

January 3rd, 2017 by

Many people use the new year to facilitate change in their lives. Whether you want to find a new position or move your way up the ladder, here are three goals you should be setting in 2017 to make those changes a reality.

happy-new-year-tumblrPrioritize networking. Now is the perfect time to connect with people in your professional network. Who you know is going to be important when trying to establish and build your career. Ask business acquaintances out to coffee (quick, before peppermint mochas go away!) or use sites like Meetup.com to look for local professional events you can attend.

Polish up your resume. Make sure your experiences and skills are up to date on your resume. Also make sure you revamp your LinkedIn profile as well. Keeping these polished will make you more marketable to outside opportunities. If you’re considering a career change this year, you may also want to brush up on your interview skills.

Learn something new. Use the new year to learn a new skill which you can add to your newly polished resume. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to build a website or you’ve had a lingering interest in photography. Whatever you’re interested in, find a class or a book that can help you accelerate your career.

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Give Your Speech Writing Flair

December 15th, 2016 by

You’ve been tasked with giving a speech to a large audience and you want to make sure it’s memorable. Here are several writing techniques you can implement to give your speech flair and get the point across.

2756494307_a0380a96e0_bEpiphora. This is the use of repetition at the end of successive clauses or phrases. Using epiphora is a great way to emphasize a specific point and amplify an important idea. A famous example of epiphora you may be familiar with is from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people,
by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln repeats “the people” three times to reinforce the idea that the government is not an abstract idea, but an institution interconnected with the people it governs.

Anaphora. Like epiphora, anaphora uses repetition except at the beginning of a clause or phrase with the same goal of reinforcing a point or idea. Martin Luther King Jr. used anaphora at a rally in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

I’m tired of war and conflict in the world.
I’m tired of shooting.
I’m tired of selfishness.
I’m tired of evil.”

Chiasmus. If you’ve heard the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” then you should already have a pretty good understanding of chiasmus. Chiasmus is the repetition of two words or phrases in a successive clause but in the reverse order. Chiasmus is a catchy technique and has been used in famous speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

“Ask not what your country can do for you
— ask what you can do for your country.”

Trying to sharpen your speech writing? Take Next Step Academy’s NEW course “Developing Public Speaking Skills

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